Catalunya MotoGP has arrived, who will take the Spanish crown?
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Catalunya MotoGP has arrived, who will take the Spanish crown?

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 04 June 2021

Author: Myanna Wedes

The 2021 Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has arrived and we are very excited for the racing to get underway. The race at the Spanish circuit has always been a thrill and we are certain the gloves will be off between Fabio Quartararo, Pecco Bagnaia, Jack Miller, Joan Mir, Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales to name a few. Two of the main announcements for the weekend are the arrival of Remy Gardner into MotoGP in 2022 and Vinales sacking his crew chief and bringing in someone else. For Australian fans, having two Aussie riders in the premier class is an incredible achievement and no doubt, Gardner has earned his spot on the grid the hard way, working around the clock to improve and be competitive. At present, he is leading the Moto2 World Championship and racing against his teammate for the title with absolute precision and consistency. We are very proud of Gardner, interviewing him over the years and watching him find who he wants to be on and off track, the style of riding and certainly confidence in amongst a challenging sport. KTM are very lucky to have signed Gardner as we do believe he is an asset to their brand just like Brad Binder and Jack Miller to Ducati.

KTM Images/Polarity Photo (Remy Gardner)

Remy Gardner:

“I’m extremely happy that KTM have given me this opportunity. It’s a dream come true for me and what we have worked for up until this point. It’s an incredible chance for me and I cannot wait to ride the bike. I just want to thank KTM for believing in me. Right now we need to focus on finishing 2021 in a strong way. I want to thank also everyone who has supported me to reach MotoGP. We’re just getting started.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director:

“It’s a real pleasure for us to bring Remy to MotoGP next season because we knew about his speed and ability for Moto2 and he has confirmed that potential. We believe there is much more to come from him and it’s important he has this opportunity to keep growing. Remy is a typical racer. He’s super-determined and never gives up. He’s exciting to watch and we’re looking forward to working with him in this next step. Again, we’re also showing that the KTM GP Academy can give the right opportunity for riders that want to go all the way.”

Hervé Poncharal, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing Team Principal:

“We are very proud, happy and confident to welcome Remy. We believe he will be a strong asset to the KTM MotoGP line up and I think having taken this decision is now going to help Remy to focus 100% on his Moto2 World Championship and will also help us, the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing Team to focus on our 2021 season. So, welcome back, Remy, keep on pushing and come to join us for your MotoGP adventure in 2022!”

Whilst Australian fans celebrate, Marquez is feeling the physical demands of riding to the extreme. By having fans allowed into the circuit, this may help Marquez feel less of the pain and ride with a purpose. The Honda machine is difficult to ride, has become another beast and it is going to take precious time for the rider and beast to become re-acquainted. Right now, he is finding out the weakest points of the bike and relaying this data to his team in order to improve. The feeling is a key area that Marquez wants to get right. In order to fight for podiums and victories, Marquez admits that you need to be 100% and time is what he needs on his side. The more mileage on a bike, the better he will be. In comparison, teammate Pol Espargaro is not in an ideal situation especially watching his former employer and rivals KTM perform. It will be a tough ask to get baby Espargaro to improve if his ability to ride the Honda is not up to scratch. Who knows, we may even see a drastic switch if things do not go to plan. Honda want to win and whilst their main man recovers, Takaaki Nakagami is the only one up the ladder.

www.motogp.com (Marc Marquez)

Marc Marquez:

"Although our last race was not good, overall Mugello was a weekend with some positives for us as it was quite consistent. We know where we are, we know where we want to go and we will keep following the correct steps week by week. In Montmelo it seems that there will be some fans in the grandstands again, the fans give a great atmosphere, and it will be very nice to see some people in the stands again at the home GP."

Pol Espargaro:

"After a difficult race, sometimes the best thing is a race the very next week. We need to keep moving, this is MotoGP and we return to action again. We approach this new weekend the same way as the previous; with our full focus and the goal to improve. In Mugello we found some things which will help us moving forward. Your home race is always special, even if all the fans can’t join us again this year. Montmelo is really special for me, growing up so close to it and being where I made my World Championship debut in 2006, it’s something you can’t describe racing here. We keep working, we keep improving, we keep moving."

The dominant force of Quartararo is driving Vinales nuts. So, as a result of the rollercoaster ride of results and emotions, Vinales has a new crew chief to rely on. The change needs to be rapid because Vinales is watching the World Championship fade from his sight and right now, his performance is not representative of the quality racer he is. With the birth of his baby girl Nina, there needs to be a flame within him ignite and burn brightly. Time for Vinales to step up and be the man Yamaha need because “El Diablo” is taking charge and number one. French fans will be proud after a very tormenting season last year which saw Quartararo crumble in front of the world. At present, the young French rider is putting his bike in places that others are not able to achieve with the Yamaha machinery and that includes Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli. We certainly expect more from Rossi and a top ten finish could be a reason to push harder and want more. With the off-track events of a team takeover and creating a further legacy, Rossi needs to decide on his future soon and what he will do: race or be a team manager grooming other riders to be World Champions?

It has been difficult to watch Rossi struggle and sometimes we question if he really enjoys racing anymore. With the tragic weekend at Mugello, Rossi has questioned what he is still doing there because motorcycle racing is dangerous and the chances of hurting yourself or dying very real. They are not in a cockpit. We must remember they are exposed to the elements even with the best safety gear in the world through various brands including Dainese and Alpinstars being the main choice for most riders. The death of such a young rider will be playing in the back of everyone’s minds at various points of the season although as a professional racer you have to be focused because a lack of concentration can lead you to crashing and potentially injuring yourself. This weekend’s race will make and break certain riders with the results and a summer break imminent to allow them to reset, recharge, spend time with family and appreciate the team personnel who have worked ridiculously hard to enable them to race.

www.motogp.com (Fabio Quartararo)

Fabio Quartararo:

I am really looking forward to this next round in Catalunya. It's a little sad to say it, but in a way I am hoping to forget about last weekend. Even though I rode one of the best races of my life, it was a dark Sunday. Of course, we will keep remembering Jason, but I am ready to start a new race weekend. I like the Catalunya track, I won here last year with Yamaha, so I think we can do a good job. We will do our best!

Maverick Vinales:

“The Italian GP was a weekend to forget for us, for various reasons. My thoughts are still with Jason’s friends, family, and team, but we also need to make some serious steps this weekend. We will keep working on understanding what does and doesn’t work for us and why. It’s has happened a few times already that I am fast during the practice session, but then suddenly I lose that feeling with the bike later in the weekend. We need to improve on finding a good set-up in just the first two 45-minute FP sessions. For sure, we will be pushing again here this weekend.”

Massimo Meregalli:

“Esteban joined our team in 2019. He and Maverick had already worked together before in 2013 and won the Moto3 World Championship that year. We are very grateful to Esteban for his dedication and passion during our time spent together, which led to eleven podiums for Maverick, including four wins, three second places, and four third places. Saying ‘Goodbye’ to one of our crew members is always a sad occasion, but it was a mutual decision based on what’s best for both parties. We wish Esteban all the best for the future.”

Franco Morbidelli:

Barcelona is another historical track and I hope that it will be good for us. Last year we were fast there, I took the pole position and so we have a good indication for our set from the 2020 race weekend. I expect that we can be on the same level as last year. I don’t know if it will be enough to be on top, as it is quite a tricky track, but we will try to do the best job that we can there. I’m really looking forward to facing another race this weekend.

Valentino Rossi:

The Barcelona track is one of my favourites and I always really enjoy riding there. It’s a great place and I have some very good memories from it. So I’m positive ahead of the upcoming CatalanGP, because we also improved throughout the weekend in Mugello, I was able to do some overtakes and, in the end, I finished inside the top-ten. The result still isn’t what we really wanted but we are improving and it is good to head to this next race with some points. We hope to bring this positivity to Barcelona, to continue improving and see what we can do.

Team Suzuki Ecstar out of everyone is having a difficult time with one of their riders, whose results are not stacking up. Right now, Alex Rins is causing Suzuki to suffer and lose out on points, valuable track position and an unfortunate incident this weekend has caused him to withdraw from the Spanish race. During an on track bicycle ride, Rins had an accident and broke a bone near his wrist which is likely to require surgery and recovery time. After four DNF’s and now an incident like this, the Japanese manufacturer will be frustrated, disappointed and relying on one rider to bring home the goods, current World Champion, Joan Mir. Overall, both riders are super talented and we want to see Rins battling, making less to no mistakes and taking it to his fellow rivals. It is not normal for someone of his calibre to be crashing all the time, so the recovery process and time away may just enable his mind to reset and less the pressure bubble he has created burst and become a place of positive motivation as he watches on this weekend most likely from a hospital bed. Mir has the confidence to push and the Spanish circuit is a good one for the Suzuki bike, so fighting for the victory/podium looks likely to take place. Qualifying will be the area where Mir must improve because starting mid to back of the grid is causing him to work harder throughout a race and lose out to the front runners.

Joan Mir:

“I’m looking forward to this race especially because it’s basically my home GP - I’m from Mallorca but Montmeló is the closest I can get to home turf! I really like the track and I enjoy riding here because you always get that special feeling with your home race. Usually I’m pretty quick around this circuit, so I’m ready to get going on Friday and see how the bike is working, I want to have good pace from FP1 onwards. The track is unusual in the sense that it has a bit of everything, it’s a “complete” track. And in that way you need to have everything working perfectly - set up for hard braking, for top speed, it’s another level. Aside from that, you’re always touching your shoulder on the ground! It’s exciting to ride.”

Alex Rins:

"It's a shame what happened today. I really wanted to race here in Montmeló and to have a solid performance to get back on track after some tough races. Tomorrow I will undergo surgery and then we'll talk about timings for the recovery. In any case we will work really hard to get the feeling back as soon as possible and try to return quickly. I don't know yet if I'll be ready for the German GP but I will work hard to be fit by then. Thank you for the messages of support.”

www.motogp.com (Johann Zarco)
www.motogp.com (Jorge Martin)

Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin have both been announced as re-signed for 2022 with Pramac Ducati MotoGP Team which is no surprise considering the level of talent and results achieved to date. Zarco has been performing well and within the title race, so it will be interesting to see how his teammate adjusts returning this weekend for the first time since his injury. By following Quartararo during the race, Zarco feels as though he has gained some sort of insight into his racing performance and that he wants to try new things to improve. In comparison, confidence will be key for Martin because he has been absent from a MotoGP bike for a considerable amount of time. The goal for both riders is the finish the race and be smart with their race decisions as they take place under pressure.

It is now time to go racing and find out who will be the King of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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